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Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2010 Oct;23(5):576-81.

Noninvasive cerebral oximetry: is there light at the end of the tunnel?

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  • 1Department of Neurocritical Care, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London Hospitals, Queen Square, London, UK.



There is increasing interest in the application of near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) as a noninvasive monitor of cerebral oxygenation. This review will briefly describe the principles of NIRS and examine current evidence for its clinical application as a monitor of the adequacy of cerebral oxygenation in adults.


There has been a recent surge of interest in the clinical application of NIRS following studies that have quantified the benefits of NIRS-guided management of cerebral oxygenation during cardiopulmonary bypass. However, there are limited data to support its widespread application in other clinical scenarios. New NIRS systems are being introduced to the market and technological advancements have improved their accuracy and extended the range of variables measured.


NIRS offers noninvasive monitoring of cerebral oxygenation over multiple regions of interest in a wide range of clinical scenarios. It has many potential advantages over other neuromonitoring techniques, but further technological advances are necessary before it can be introduced more widely into clinical practice.

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